There’s a fairly compelling—I’ll go so far as to deem it “persuasive”—argument to be made that of any musician of the modern era who has sustained a long, long multi-decade career, that Nick Cave has—consistently—been the greatest “serious” rock musician of our time.
Woah, woah, woah! Wait just a minute there, buddy! Greater than Bob Dylan, the Beatles, or the Stones you say? Well, no, not necessarily, obviously that’s a pretty subjective opinion just to throw out there—although it does actually happen to be the one that I hold—but do consider that the Rolling Stones had (definitively) peaked by 1972, that the best of the Beatles’ solo work was in the rear view mirror by 1974 and that the last truly great album made by Bob Dylan was probably 1975’s Blood on the Tracks. Don’t get me wrong, I hate U2 and always have, but even I can give them credit for having had a remarkably good run of it, certainly maintaining quality in their output, some level of reinvention and a decent hit single every couple of years for four decades. Face it, the Rolling Stones couldn’t do that, so they turned themselves into the world’s greatest Rolling Stones cover band. David Bowie? He burns brightly for a good few years, that’s true, but then Let’s Dance happens. Joni Mitchell? Nope. What about Neil Young? How many Neil Young songs from the 80s, 90s, 00s or the current decade can you even name let alone hum? Prince’s post 80s output was always a mixed bag. Roger Waters hasn’t exactly embarrassed himself over the years, of course, but in terms of new music, unlike Prince, he’s not been all that prolific. The same could be said of Tom Waits.
Now, Nick Cave on the other hand, has released 16 studio albums, numerous film soundtracks, live albums and recorded many significant contributions to projects spearheaded by others. There’s also the matter of his work with the Birthday Party, novels, screenplays, films, lectures, acting and much more. He’s a prolific creator and most of his output—nearly all of it if you ask me—is really fucking good. There is simply no equivalent to Let’s Dance in Cave’s entire body of work. He’s never put out a shit album, just ones that were less good than others. Nick Cave might not sell out football stadiums or go platinum, but neither did Johnny Cash. How many middle-aged rock stars put out one of their very best songs (“Jubilee Street”) entering the fifth decade of their career? Have any? Did even Frank Sinatra do anything like that? I don’t think so.
Photo of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds by Sam Barker
What if I shifted my premise (ever so slightly) to “Nick Cave is the greatest serious rock artist of the past 30 years”? I suspect a few more of you might come on board with that revised assessment as nearly all of the competition drops off when you frame it that way. But don’t take my word for it, there’s a brand new compilation—the first in 19 years—out today via BMG, that covers 30 years of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ output. Handpicked by longtime collaborator Mick Harvey and Cave himself, there’s not a single bad track on any of the different versions of Lovely Creatures: The Best of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) but having said that, as a longtime Nick Cave fanatic myself, going back to the first Birthday Party album, I’d have largely chosen a much different selection. Some overlap, but honestly not a lot. This is not to say that “my” version would be any “better” than theirs, naturally, only that it would be significantly different—how could they have left off “A Box for Black Paul” I wondered—but this is merely a mundane testament to the fact that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ back catalog is both vast, and brilliant. My selection would need to be spread across many more discs, I guess. Like 20 CDs or so.
For the 50th anniversary of their debut album, Rhino Records is releasing an expanded remastered edition of 1967’s The Grateful Dead, including a second CD containing a complete live set from the era. Buy it here. There’s also a gorgeous limited edition picture disc, only 10,000 produced.
Fifty years ago, depending on who you asked, America was either of the cusp of a magical new era of peace and love, or in a hell of a mess. On one hand you had the Vietnam War, a stagnant economy and race riots, but on the other you had incredible new art forms, exotic drugs and best of all, thanks to the invention of the birth control pill, FREE LOVE. 1967 was a real “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” kinda proposition, contingent on who you were, how old you were and what your “bag” was, man. Richard Nixon’s future “silent majority” voters, aghast at what had become of “their” country, wanted law and order. Younger people wanted to get high, get laid and get groovy.
Getting ahead in the rat race so you could end up married with two kids and two cars in the suburbs just didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore after your first acid trip.
San Francisco became the epicenter of the hippie movement, a sort of “strange attractor” calling out for bohemian young people who thought for themselves and wanted in on this brave new world of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. The intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets provided a picture perfect tie-dyed backdrop for the world’s news media to focus on. It was here that longtime CBS News reporter (and later 60 Minutes stalwart) Harry Reasoner found himself and his film crew, for the making of the fascinating time capsule documentary “The Hippie Temptation.” In 1967 huge houses in the Haight could be rented for practically nothing, allowing for the influx of young people to be quickly absorbed, seemingly overnight. Soon there were even tour buses trekking through the district so that “straight” people could catch a glimpse of the hippies in their natural habitat, without having to actually walk among them, as if on a safari ride.
When Reasoner arrived in the city by the bay, the Summer of Love was about to kick into full swing. If you wanted to become a hippie yourself, Reasoner’s reporting—which was deeply cynical despite a patina of “objectivity” without ever really intending to be such—was almost a how-to kit for showing up in San Francisco with just a sleeping bag and finding your way around. He might have thought he was putting the hippies down, and to some watching—maybe even most of his CBS audience (the network was known for appealing to older and rural viewers at the time)—this was the message received. But if you were say, just graduating from high school in 1967, you could read between the lines. Reasoner’s documentary probably inadvertently inspired many an aspiring hippie to migrate to the Haight.
By the summer of 1967, the Grateful Dead, and especially their guitarist Jerry Garcia, were seen by many in the media—both the mainstream media and in the nascent underground press—as sort of ambassadors of hippie, and Reasoner gave them air time, even if he is often speaking over them as they play. Imagine that you are seventeen, it’s 1967, and you’re watching long-haired freaks and body-painted hippie chicks twirling and dancing in the park on TV for the first time as the unofficial mayor of the Haight opines:
Jerry Garcia: What we’re thinking about is a peaceful planet. We’re not thinking about anything else. We’re not thinking about any kind of power, we’re not thinking about any of those kind of struggles. We’re not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. That’s not what we want. Nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life. A simple life, a good life, you know, and like think about moving the whole human race ahead a step or a few steps. At least not going around in circles like it is now.
Had I not been a mere toddler during the Summer of Love, I can assure you, I’d have been on the first bus to SF after watching “The Hippie Movement”!
Below, just the scenes with the Dead from the program. If you want to watch “The Hippie Movement” in its entirety, click here.
By the following year Hollywood got in on the San Francisco hippie vibe with “counterculture” comedies like I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (with a pot-smoking Peter Sellers) and Otto Preminger’s Skidoo (where Jackie Gleason drops acid), and Richard Lester’s moving drama Petulia starring Julie Christie and George C. Scott. In Petulia, the young Grateful Dead are seen performing “Viola Lee Blues” in a nightclub scene shot in 1967, some of the earliest pro-shot footage we have of the group.
A man’s relationship to his meatstick is, as you might imagine, a highly personal matter. I’ll repeat that: No one should should try to get between a man and his meatstick. Never! It just wouldn’t be right.
“And woe is he who hath no meatstick, for he might as well be a vegetarian”—Shakespeare himself said that (I think).
While a meatstick might take many guises, or boast many girths, or lengths—even odors so distinctive that someone blindfolded would be able to identify each savory, musty flavor with but a quick whiff—there is one special sort of meatstick that can said to be more highly desirable than all the others. It’s slim, Jim. You got that, daddio? No one would mistake this meat for tasting like chicken. It’s a meatstick that appeals to the carnal, carnivorous nature of our ancestry. Let’s just say that it’ll put lead in your pencil, Pete.
When a man’s got a meatstick like this one, he’s proud of it. Who wouldn’t be? He wants to share it with others—show it off a little—but not let them get close enough to take a bite out of it. You can’t run around being reckless with a magnificent meatstick like this one. You have to respect a meatstick of this caliber.
A man and his meatstick…? What the hell am I talking about?
One of a series of sexist ads by cigar maker Tiparillo from the late 60s.
Cigar maker Tiparillo launched this charming advertising campaign back in 1967. It featured beautiful, buxom females portrayed as “professional” women such as a marine biologist, lab technician and a librarian in various states of undress. In the case of the bespectacled librarian it would appear that she’s entirely nude with the exception of the book she’s naturally using to strategically cover her bare breasts. The old adage of “sex sells” is never wrong, but neither is the fact that when sex is used to sell something it often comes loaded with heavy doses of sexism.
Such is the case with these particular Tiparillo ads that were likely used by men’s interest magazines such as Playboy (you can actually see the Playboy logo on the “marine biologist” one at the top of this post) so yeah, I get it. Cigarette marketing to men should involve boobs and submissive-looking women (or TWINS!) giving hope to the idea that proffering a distinctly phallic Tiparillo is the key to sexy times with bodacious (and intelligent) half-naked females. I can’t lie, I nearly spit out my vodka tonic when I saw them and I hate wasting good booze. While the images are fairly amusing (and a little rapey if you ask me) it’s the captions that attempt to tell the “story” behind said Tiparillo man and that indiscreet object of his desire. Here’s the one attached to our sexy librarian that you’ll see below:
She’ll read anything she can get her hands on. From Medieval History to How-To-Build-a-24-Foot-Iceboat. Loves books. Loves new ideas. Okay. No Doubt, she’s seen the unusual slim Tiparillo shape. She’s been intrigued by the neat white tip. She may even know that there are two Tiparillos. Regular for a mild smoke and new Tiparillo M with menthol for a cold smoke. Your only problem is which to offer. P.S. If she accepts our Tiparillo remember to fumble with the matches until she decides to light it herself. That way, she’ll have to put the book down.
If there were any more innuendo in that ad it would be for Viagra. Anyway, I’m sure these vintage ads will probably cause you to experience a wide range of emotions as they did yours truly. And as you might imagine they are kinda/somewhat NSFW.
If you’re a music fan of a certain age, then the recent Desert Trip (AKA “Oldchella”) musical festival might’ve seemed like a dreamy nostalgic return to your younger years seeing your baby boomer idols all in one place, with said location having plenty of toilets and concession stands instead of brown acid and mud-covered hippies. If you’re on the other side of the age spectrum, a millennial, it was a lazy way to earn rock snob bragging rights for when you’re old. (“Yeah, yeah, of course I saw Dylan live. McCartney? Yep. The Stones? Check. Neil? C’mon, like I’d miss seeing Neil Young!” and so forth.)
No matter which camp you fall into, who doesn’t want to win a whole mess of free box sets? Between now and Halloween, you can enter to win just that—box sets from Led Zeppelin, Ramones, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, The Band and many more classic rock artists (who may—or may not in some cases—be at Desert Trip 2017).
It’ll be like an early Christmas this year for one lucky entrant…
An illustrated poster for 1971’s ‘The Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio.’
I’ve seen my fair share of what your Mom refers to as “dirty movies” in my lifetime and I’m sure most of our Dangerous Minds readers have too. As I also know that many of you have a thing for movie posters it is with particular amusement and pride that I bring to you a collection of illustrated movie posters advertising various ‘X-Rated’ films from the 1960s and 1970s. Pretty much no topic was off limits back then apparently. There was even an erotic flick based on the sexploits of Pinocchio. Which I suppose makes perfect sense when you think about it (ahem) long enough.
One of the more amusing aspects of these film posters is the cheesy tongue-in-cheek copywriting that accompanies the posters that’s supposed to help sell you on the idea that the Erotic Adventures of Pinocchio would be a good time because “his nose isn’t the only thing that grows!” A few others are also are based on stories originally conceived for kids such as Cinderella (“the sexiest comedy of 1977 Cinderella 2000”), Alice in Wonderland or 1969’s The New Adventures of Snow White which I believe I’m safe in assuming involves sexytime with at least seven dwarves. At least I hope it does.
If you’re digging them like I do most of the posters featured in this post can be purchased over at Heritage Auctions and other online auction sites. It should go without saying I wouldn’t be doing my job right if I didn’t say that many of the images in this post are NSFW. You already knew that, right?
An X-Rated musical version of ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ 1976.
In the mid-70s I started a reggae band called The Ravers. I was living in Boulder, Colorado and had recently discovered The Wailers, Toots and The Maytals, The Mighty Diamonds, Burning Spear and the rest of the great groups coming out of Jamaica. For me, rock and roll had died along with Hendrix, Morrison and Brian Jones. There was some light in the darkness radiating from David Bowie, Roxy Music, T Rex and Sparks but reggae gave me what I had been missing: short energetic songs with great hooks and messages of rebellion. For a year or so, The Ravers played a handful of clubs to small audiences who couldn’t quite wrap their heads around an all-white reggae band that played with a more aggressive attitude than our Jamaican idols. The original material was more profane than sacred with a rocksteady rhythm that didn’t swing as much as lurch. I didn’t know it at the time but the reggae experiment was just a launching pad for something that was a better fit for me as a songwriter and front man.
In 1976 I had my musical “come to Jesus” moment. The Ramones’ debut album had just been released and as soon as the vinyl landed on my turntable and the band came roaring through the speakers, my life’s calling shifted gears and I decided to start a loud, insane rock band. I called my bandmates and scheduled a meeting. That night I played The Ramones for David, Artie, Jon and whoever our drummer was at the time. These guys were terrific musicians who were listening to shit like Steely Dan and The Grateful Dead. Hearing The Ramones made them visibly uncomfortable. They didn’t get it. They thought I’d lost my mind. But I played the album again. And then again. And suddenly smiles were breaking out on their faces and they were beginning to pick up on the musical intelligence underneath the goofy lyrics. The relentless guitar surging over a skin tight rhythm section was superficially simple but actually very hard to execute. This was a different kind of virtuosity, one that was just as exacting as any flashy soloing of the bands that my group admired. I picked up the tonearm and we picked up our guitars and started playing our first Ramones-inspired riffs. Within a week we went from being a bad reggae band to being a pretty good garage band. We didn’t call it punk until someone else did.
Playing our brand of fast and loud rock and roll went over like the proverbial turd in a punchbowl in hippie dippy Boulder. Which just made me more determined. We played country bars and Italian restaurants. I’d take my clothes off and leap into the audience. Half the set was made up on the spot. I’d turn to the band and scream “give me an E” and we’d start vamping. I ran my vocals through an Echoplex and would holler gibberish. We developed a small group of dedicated fans. Weirdos and outcasts. One of whom, Eric, later changed his name to Jello Biafra.
The author in the throes of rock and roll dementia. Photo: Patty Heffley.
When The Ramones came to Denver, Colorado in 1977 to play a tiny club with the totally misleading name Ebbets Field, The Ravers were hired to be their opening act. Being the only punk band in the Rocky Mountain region had its upside. I was going to meet The Ramones. I was excited. On the other hand, I was also scared shitless of being crushed by the band we were opening for.
The night of the gig we were onstage covering songs by The Dictators, The Stooges, Tuff Darts and some 60s garage rockers as well as our original material. The venue was tiny with steeply raked bleacher seating. The front row was about three feet from the stage. The Ravers were playing “California Sun” (which The Ramones had covered) when The Ramones entered the room and walked right in front of the stage carrying guitar cases and staring at the ground. I swear Johnny was smirking. We probably looked like rubes. In that moment, I felt like one.
After our set we went to the dressing room we were sharing with The Ramones. The vibe was deeply uncomfortable. Nobody talked. I tried. The Ramones, with the exception of a Ritalin-deprived Dee Dee, were tight-lipped and sulking. The only thing anybody said for the half hour I was with the band was when Johnny started talking about an upcoming CBGB gig with The Cramps. He thought they sucked. Big time. He couldn’t wait to annihilate them. You could tell he knew what the rest of the world would eventually find out: That the Ramones were pound for pound the greatest rock band to walk the earth. Johnny was a competitor. All or nothing.
Two girlfriends were traveling with the band. One sat silently reading a novelization of Ilsa: She Wolf Of The SS while the other was reading an Eerie comic book. Both wore leather mini-skirts with fishnet stockings and the same motorcycle jackets as the band. The whole thing was like a movie. That’s when it hit me. The Ramones were actors. This was theater. And it was perfect. Seamless.
The Ramones’ performance that night in Denver in front of about 50 people had for those of us who were there much the same impact that The Sex Pistols had in Manchester in June of 1976 when they played to 29 people, most of whom went on to form groups of their own like Joy Division, Siouxsie And The Banshees and The Buzzcocks. From the moment they hit the stage and struck their first chord, Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy were sublimely intense… and loud. Far and away the loudest band I’d ever heard. It was like an airplane landing in the room. But despite the massive wall of sound there were nuances in the music that came through. The Ramones could start and stop on a dime, commanded deft time changes, condensing and sculpting pure energy into a barrage of electricity that was surgical in its precision. The music was haiku simple but like haiku it contained enormity. I hate to say it for fear of sounding pretentious but The Ramones were avant-garde, revolutionary, modernists. They took traditional rock and roll forms and compressed and distilled them to their very essence. What Warhol was doing in the visual arts, The Ramones were doing in music: returning the marvelous to the familiar. Rock music had become dull, bloated and unnecessary. It was competing with itself. The Ramones threw themselves against the barricades and a surge of fresh air entered the sphere of rock and roll and for those of us who consider the music as vital as blood, this was deliverance.
The Ramones may have been loud, bratty provocateurs but they were also spiritual. Their songs were mantras, chants that summoned the dormant gods of rock and roll and transformed audiences. Whether you’re a Deadhead, a metalhead or jazzbo, you’ve been there—in that moment when time stops and the skies open up. The Ramones were the answer to their own question: What is rock and roll?
Eric—Jello—had come to the gig posing as my roadie so he could get into the 21 and over show. In a photo snapped that night, Eric had to hand his beer off to Joey so there would be no evidence of underage drinking.
Out come these four, kinda degenerate looking guys in leather jackets—which is something you didn’t see very often then. One chord on Johnny’s guitar, and we knew it was going to be louder than anyone of us were prepared for. We braced ourselves and instead of being goofy, the Ramones were one of the most powerful experiences of my entire life.
We were three feet from the stage and forced to sit down, of course. Not only were they really, really good, but half the fun was turning around and watching the Ebbets Field, country-rock glitterati, the guys with the neatly trimmed beards, Kenny Loggins-feathered hair and corduroy jackets, with patches on the elbows, as well as the cocaine cowboys and their women, with their 1920s suits with flowers, because that’s what Joni Mitchell was wearing at the time—they looked horrified. They had nowhere to go. Because Ebbets Field was so small, you couldn’t go hang out in the lobby because there wasn’t one. They just had to endure the Ramones
Jello pretty much nails it. The Ramones rearranged our rock and roll DNA that night and we would never be the same. Almost 40 years later my sense memory of that night makes the hair on my body go erect. And at 65 years old any erection is a good thing.
Phil Gammage was also there that night. Phil went on to form Certain General in 1980, a highly regarded post-punk band that played every reputable rock venue in NYC and Europe. In 1977 he was living in Boulder and going to the University iof Colorado. One of a handful of outlaws at that respectable school. Here’s what Phil has to say about the Ebbets Field show:
Ebetts Field was a small club in downtown Denver that featured a variety of jazz, rock, blues, and country national touring music acts. Bands not big time enough to play the area’s theaters or arenas. I had already gone there a few times before when I drove down from Boulder that early spring weeknight to see The Ravers and The Ramones play.
The Ramones had so much discipline in their playing. There were no loose ends, no extra chords or stray drum beats. No slow songs, no long songs. No meandering jams. No prog rock style music frills. No encore. No rapping with the audience between songs. Their musical ideas were revolutionary. That night no one else within a thousand miles of Denver was playing music like that. I was hearing and seeing something very ground breaking and I knew it. Somehow, out of my curiosity I had found my way to be in that club that night to experience The Ramones, and I felt I was one of the ‘chosen few’ to be lucky enough to be there.
It would be the only time I would ever see The Ramones play live. I had numerous chances later, but there was something just so right and so perfect about that night in Denver. I didn’t want to mess with that mojo.
I kept The Ravers on my radar during the next few weeks. I wanted to see them play again, wanted to check out their scene. They were all a few years older than me, but they seemed like good people and approachable. Then one afternoon I picked up The Daily Camera newspaper and in the arts section was shocked to read the headline “The Ravers Say Goodbye to Boulder.” My fave local band was leaving town for good and heading to New York.
But that’s another story…
Another University of Colorado student Chris Murdock was at Ebbets Field that night. Chris too was moved by rock’s higher powers and went from observer to participant in the punk explosion when he formed legendary Colorado rockers The DefeX. The DefeX, like The Ravers, made the pilgrimage to CBGB. The acid test for any young band was whether they were gutsy enough to expose themselves to NYC’s 1970s trial by fire. The DefeX were for real. Chris sent me these previously unpublished photos from The Ramones Ebbets gig. The sparse audience really does have that deer in the headlights look. Maybe it was shock and awe.
Steve Knutson was also at the show. Steve formed one of the first punk bands in Colorado, The Front. He also worked at legendary Denver record store Wax Trax (yes that Wax Trax). This is such a cool anecdote. “After school.”
After school me and a friend picked up The Ramones at the airport, and drove them straight to Wax Trax. They loved the store and bought quite a few records. Johnny’s girlfriend was wearing a raincoat and I think nothing else. He kept asking her to cover up in the car. They wanted us to help them buy pot but we had no idea how to facilitate that. My memory is that Johnny played through double Marshall stacks at max volume. It was incredible. But I couldn’t sleep afterwards for a few days out of excitement and my ears were ringing really badly. Unforgettable.
Photo: Steve Knutson.
Miracles actually occurred that night. From Andy Snow:
I was at that show too with Phil Gammage, and yes, it was loud and completely rugged. After I left I realized my kidney stones had miraculously been sonicated!
Andy’s kidney stones.
I don’t write reviews. I tell you what I like and hope I do it convincingly enough that you’ll go out of your way to check out whatever I’m writing about. There will be plenty written about The Ramones 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. As someone who was there in the beginning of what was to become known as punk rock, it is impossible for me to be objective about the scene and how it altered my life. Writing about The Ramones dispassionately would be like dropping acid and Thorazine at the same time. What’s the point? There’s only been a handful of rock writers who write like the music feels. I believe the subject of the writer is always the writer no matter what the subject is. And when it comes to rock and roll, there is no topic more likely to be encrusted with a writer’s literary love juice. The Ramones debut album is second only to Love’s Forever Changes when it comes to albums that have never sounded less exciting to me than the first day I heard them. And both albums have been released in the same week in state of the art analog remasters. Vinyl is the new black.
So what do we have here? Three CDs, a book and a vinyl record. The CDs consist of a stereo remaster of the album and live sets from L.A. club the Roxy in 1976. Really good stuff.
But, for me, the heart and the soul of the package: a newly re-mixed and mastered mono version on 180 gram vinyl. This splendid mono release was produced by the album’s original producer Craig Leon at Abbey Road studios. Mixed from the original analog master tape, the record has a presence, a melt-your-faceness that will hit you like a tuning fork struck by the hand of God.
The Ramones with Rob Freeman and Craig Leon at the board mixing The Ramones first album in 1976.
In an email exchange, Craig described the process of remastering the stereo and remixing the album to his original mono specs:
The stereo version is a remastering of the original two track mix that we did on the last day in Plaza Sound. When we mastered the 1976 album this was altered to try and get as much level as I could on the vinyl and to apply compression simulating the “secret weapon” compressor that only the EMI studio at Abbey Road had at that time. I used it on the remastering this time rather than duplicate the one I used on the original vinyl. The compressor is an EMI modified Altec 124. It gives an incredible “in your face” presence and is easily recognizable as one of the main sounds of the Beatles recordings. George Martin and the engineers used it on almost everything the Beatles did. Wonder how Paul’s bass sounded so punchy and huge…that’s it. The whole mix is run through that. The mono is a remix recreated from my original notes and referenced against early monitor mixes that I did in ‘76. On the early monitor mixes the placement is virtually mono. The overall mix is done partially through an EMI TG12345 (great model number for this record!) console, API modules and the EMI Altec compressor. At that time the band and I wanted to go for two releases… a stereo that was extreme and attention getting but also showed the triangular approach to how the band would be set up live. Bass on one side drums in the middle guitar on the other. And a large impact mono. Like the dual versions of albums from the 60s. Of course this was deemed to be impractical because mono was “dead” in 1976. No one had mono players any more (at least in the U.S.). I find that as the years went on and different remasterings were done, the intention of the original album got diluted quite a bit. I’m really thrilled that Warner Music with a great push from Mickey Leigh and Dave Frey, gave me the opportunity to restore our intentions on this set.
There have been a handful of critics who have described the mono remix and master to be “non-essential.” These numbnuts have clearly not listened to the mono mix on vinyl. My bet is they’re listening to digital files through some shitty computer speakers. Listening to The Ramones mono version on vinyl is like placing your head against the band’s collective chest: You can hear the heartbeat of the music. And it pounds! My stereo system is comprised of a Thorens turntable, a solid vintage Technics receiver and Klipsch Heresy speakers. Play the record through a decent analog set up and you too will discover just how absolutely essential this slab of vinyl is. It holds it own against any of the recently released Beatles’ mono masters, and they are absolutely exquisite sounding.
The Ramones never referred to themselves as punks. They were a rock band with a unique vision who considered themselves to be part of a long tradition going back to Eddie Cochran through The Who, The Stones, The Stooges, David Bowie and every great rock band that kept it simple and pure. It’s a shame that Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy didn’t live to see their music mixed and mastered in a studio where The Beatles made their greatest albums. The Ramones wanted to be rock stars. And they were. No band has deserved it more.
The Ravers left for New York City a few months after opening for The Ramones. We had to get to Manhattan and see what was going on. We changed our name to The Nails. We played CBGB, Max’s, Danceteria, Pep Lounge etc. We got a major label deal and made records. I’d occasionally run into Joey Ramone at one of the rock clubs in the city. We were both drinking heavily in those years and the conversions were drunken and brief. I would bring up the Denver gig and he’d nod and mumble something. For me, that gig was monumental. For Joey, not so much.
This tall lanky guy that nervously hid behind his hair and slumped against the world like a drunken saint was not what you’d call heroic. But Joey was a hero to me. He and his band represented everything I expect from and respect about rock and roll: The Ramones stayed true to their vision, they didn’t sell out, they kept doing what they did best against the massive complacency of a music industry that was too small to contain them, but arrogant enough to dismiss them. It took Rolling Stone magazine 40 years to put them on a cover. 40 years for the band to earn a gold record. Punks might wail “who gives a shit?” Well, I can tell you the Ramones gave a shit. The Ramones wrote hits that never became hits. Dozens of them. Anybody who tells you they started a band just for the “art” of it is full of shit. Tommy may have initially conceived of The Ramones as a pop art concept (a latter day Warhol/Velvet Underground iteration) but the rest of the band were in it for keeps. The Ramones were conceptual as all get out, and smarter than most people realized, but three quarters of the band wanted to be part of the rock and roll pantheon along with Marc Bolan, John Lennon and Sky Saxon. And now they finally are. But they’re fucking dead. And that’s the sad part.
Tommy was the first to leave the band and the last to leave the planet. His vision of a one-off gutter version of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable ended up touring and recording for 20 years. He created a beautifully brutal monster.
Needless to say, I can’t share an analog version of the mono record with DM readers. Just go out and buy it. It’s worth every penny. And if you don’t have an analog stereo system at home, then this album is a good reason to get one.
Craig Leon and everybody involved in the making of The Ramones 40th Anniversary edition deserve all the love that rock fans can bestow upon them. And Rhino gets a shout out for being smart enough to put the mono remix on vinyl. What a gift.
I know people like to watch. Here’s what I consider to be the only live footage of The Ramones that comes close to communicating how powerful they were in the flesh. The Ramones live at The Rainbow, December 31, 1977. Play it fucking loud!!!
In the latest episode of VICE’s outrageous Confessions of A… series (brought to you by Rebtel) a self-admitted boozehound and drug addict gives the unedited lowdown on his unbridled consumption of legal and illegal substances. Not everyone can handle their dope and liquor and this guy doesn’t even bother trying. Why should he? His poor suffering girlfriend can pay for his lowlife lifestyle. That’s the ticket: find a meal ticket! He even steals her legit pain medication and is okay with watching her suffer so he can get high! “Boyfriend of the Year” material, he’s not.
Wearing a mask, hoodie, and with a robotically disguised voice, this articulate loser shares the details of his extreme form of self-medication. Thus cloaked, our dedicated devotee of druggy oblivion doesn’t hold back, saying things that no one would (or should) admit to on camera otherwise. You’ll almost feel sorry for this selfish POS, but you’ll probably feel more sorry for those who have to put up with him.
The Creators Project, a global network dedicated to the celebration of creativity, arts and technology has partnered with the all-new Toyota Prius to present the Future Forward event series. To that end, they commissioned a set of original works—elaborate technological installations by internationally renowned studios—to premiere as part of a nationwide event series that launched in Spring 2016. Two events, one held in New York and another in Chicago have already taken place. Next comes the Los Angeles event which will be on display at NeueHouse Hollywood showcasing the work of forward thinkers, artists, architects, designers, engineers and inventors who take ideas of speed, change, and technology into their practice.
A futuristic chandelier that moves in response to heat.
A star-shaped space that envelopes you in metal, mirrors and light.
An organic, living wall that reacts to your motions.
Burton Silverman’s iconic cover portrait of ‘Aqualung,’ the wheezing, shabby homeless man ‘eyeing little girls with bad intent’ who happens to look a lot like Ian Anderson
In 2016, Jethro Tull is one of those utterly amazing bands that is—sadly—very difficult to explain to those for whom they seem to hold no obvious appeal. Although once one of the very biggest concert draws in the world of music—and don’t get me wrong, they’re still a popular group—their fanbase is getting older each year and I don’t think it’s exactly getting any bigger with the passing of time. But for the sake of “the young people” who are reading this I’m going to try to get across why I think Jethro Tull are so great and why they deserve your attention. The occasion is Rhino’s re-release of their classic 1971 longplayer Aqualung, an album that I’m absolutely nuts about, on a 2 CD/2 DVD box set. I hope my enthusiasm will be contagious enough that you’ll give it a listen yourself.
I canvassed some of the other Dangerous Minds contributors about their opinions of Aqualung: Editor-at-large Marc Campbell relayed that he remembered “the scuzziest hippies smoking skunk weed and listening to that piece of crap.” Fair enough. He was there. Our Chris Bickel (who wasn’t) wondered “who the fuck is the audience for this jester-hat-wearing Renaissance Faire bullshit?” while acknowledging that its multi-platinum record status indicated there must have been quite a large one. My wife sees Jethro Tull as the sort of group that “old bikers listen to at keg parties in Cincinnati,” in the same category with say, Steppenwolf and Howie Pyro cited the time when I tried to force their Benefit album on him and how this resulted in “some kinda kneejerk anti-Tull punk reaction inside of me.”
All of these reactions are perfectly understandable. If you don’t really know what Jethro Tull are all about, being confronted with this scraggly-looking comically leering hirsute and freaky Dickensian hobo-sage character wearing thigh-high boots and a glittering codpiece playing the flute is simply confusing in 2016 isn’t it? Don’t worry I’m here to help you. Please try to keep an open mind, won’t you?
Until not all that long ago, I can’t really claim to have had much more than a passing familiarity with Jethro Tull’s music myself. Although one of the very first 45s that I ever bought was their “Bungle in the Jungle” in 1974, for the most part I just knew some of the greatest hits. A couple years back, a publicist at Rhino threw Steven Wilson’s 5.1 surround revisioning of their 1970 Benefit album in the package with something else that I’d asked for. I’ll listen to anything Steven Wilson has remixed for 5.1 and I was utterly floored by Benefit. I had never really thought all that much about Jethro Tull frankly, it was more about Wilson’s participation than anything else that had piqued my curiosity. Because I had no expectations one way or the other, Benefit hit me like a bolt from the blue. I was completely smitten with that album pretty much upon the first listen. My initial reaction was “Wow! How did a group this big never truly get on my radar before?” (Howie’s right: If you came of age during punk, Jethro Tull were simply a dinosaur band you avoided and that’s the straightforward answer).
Jethro Tull, stand up guys
I gorged myself on that album and fanned out through their back catalog. I liked their second effort Stand Up quite a bit and I also got way into their Living in the Past compilation. Their first album This Was I was less enthusiastic about—it’s just a basic blues thing, music they’d already outgrown before its release, hence the title—but the one that came after Benefit—that’s Aqualung—blew my doors off. If you consider yourself a fan of say, King Crimson, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa or even Nick Cave (who named one of his sons Jethro he was such a fan) you might have the same reaction I did: “HOW did I miss out on this?”
Obviously any discussion of Jethro Tull begins—and ends—with the group’s leader, the singular Ian Anderson, a rather brainy and idiosyncratic figure surely seen in retrospect (if not necessarily at the time) as the unlikeliest of arena rock gods. Anderson always read very “old” to me. At the time Aqualung was recorded he was just 23, but what a wizened old 23 he seemed to be. Some people are born old men, I guess, but by this age his lyrics were already becoming quite dark and deep. Aqualung‘s brooding, philosophically sophisticated subject matter included seeing homelessness people and doing nothing about it; how whatever kernel of truth there had been in Christianity had been co-opted by the Church of England and a cynical ruling class; and in “Locomotive Breath”—one of their signature numbers—humanity’s mad dash towards Hobbesian overpopulation.
Aqualung‘s liner notes included the following statement, an audacious sentiment to express in the early 1970s:
In the beginning Man created God;
And in the image of Man created he him.
2 And Man gave unto God a multitude of names,
that he might be Lord over all the earth when it was suited to Man.
3 And on the seven millionth day Man rested
and did lean heavily on his God and saw that it was good.
4 And Man formed Aqualung of the dust of the ground,
and a host of others likened unto his kind.
5 And these lesser men Man did cast into the void. And some were burned;
and some were put apart from their kind.
6 And Man became the God that he had created
and with his miracles did rule over all the earth.
7 But as these things did come to pass,
the Spirit that did cause Man to create his God
lived on within all men: even within Aqualung.
8 And Man saw it not.
9 But for Christ’s sake he’d better start looking.
Here’s a stunning rendition of ‘My God’ (from ‘Aqualung’) performed in front of a crowd of 600,000 people at the 1970 Isle of Wight festival